A darkened room is dominated by a large projection screen. A map of the world’s continents glows in blue digital light. Individual red lights densely dot those outlines and with trails of red connecting them in a tightly knit web of traffic. In front of the map we see the rear of a high-backed “executive” chair, its black leather outlined in the digital glow. In front of the chair is an enormous glass-topped desk, clean and uncluttered.
AN AGENT stands before the desk looking toward the chair. He is in his mid-thirties, clean-shaven and precisely groomed. He holds a wireless device, which pulses insistently with a small red light.
The leather chair spins and we see LOOMIS, an older man otherwise similar in appearance to the first. He is fit and well-dressed, to the extent we can discern. But he looks weary and care worn. He exhales heavily, then adjusts himself in his chair, as if bracing for a faintly unpleasant task.
Loomis: All right. Put him on.
The Agent touches the device, sets it on the desk and steps back. The device immediately emits a crackling, enraged voice.
Voice: Loomis?! Loomis, you rat bastard! Are you on the line? I swear by all tinsel in, if you don’t . . .
Loomis: I’m here, I’m here. Let me congratulate you on another successful run. If I may say so, it’s been one of your best, ever . . . Santa.
For it is Santa Claus on the other end of the device.
SANTA: Best ever?! An easy thing to say from whatever underground bunker or abandoned missile silo you haunt, you lousy spook! Listen, I barely got out of this run alive! What are your people doing out there?
Loomis: Wait, our people? What do our people have to do with this?
Santa: All this War on Christmas hoo-hah! Do I exist, don’t I exist? Am I freaked out by Kwanza? Am I a white guy or not? The backlash has made for some . . . well, some . . . situations!
Loomis: Things a little hairy in Compton?
Santa: Compton?! What?! Are you . . . ? No, you pudding-brained . . . The problems were in the suburbs! Parents keeping their little Yardleys and Thatchers and Taylors and Madisons up to try to prove them I’m white! I’m the Spirit of Giving for cryin’ out Kringle . . . which brings me to the point. There are going to be some changes.
Loomis: OK, I’m listening.
Santa: First of all, get those bobbleheads on the news stations to knock it off.
Loomis: Hey, wait, wait. That’s totally beyond our . . .
Santa: Can it, Loomis. I didn’t just fall off the sled. Make. It. Happen.
Loomis: All right, all right. I’ll see what I can do.
Santa: Secondly, I realize this is no longer a one-man job. It’s getting too tough. I’m not as lively as I once was. Nor quick. I’m putting the old team back together.
Loomis: You can’t be serious.
Santa: I couldn’t be more serious. Loomis. I need the help, first of all. I’m not too proud to admit it. And, secondly, I will not have all the hard work we’ve done over the centuries blown by some smug nitwit catching me—xxxx forbid!—with a mouthful of Toll House, on a smart phone and blowing up Instagram with a bunch of racist nonsense. So, I’m putting the team back together and we’re going to mix it up.
Loomis: Let’s talk this through, OK? You can’t really mean the whole team, can you?
Santa: Absolutely. The Saint will be easy enough to find. He’ll be in Turkey for sure. Nick was always a bit of homebody. And SinterKlaas, he’s somewhere in the Hudson Valley, I believe. That place is just blowing up. Did you know Stinson . . . Never mind. Well, and the Birthday Boy, himself, of course. Heh, heh, that’ll freak some folks out, for sure! Heck, even the Krampus! Last I knew he was in Bangkok. . . .
Loomis: Look, Santa, I understand that this is a stressful time for you. I do. But even if I had the authority to approve . . .
Santa: Now, you listen here, Loomis. LEWIS Loomis. Lewis Loomis, of 112 Laurel Court, Arlington, Virginia, who wanted AND GOT both the Cuisinart 16-bottle wine chiller and the Bluetooth virtual keyboard—hey, how’s the detective novel going, anyway?
Loomis: Well, it’s more an espionage . . .
Santa: I look forward to reading it. But, Loomis, this is happening.
Loomis: Yes, Santa. And . . . thank you, Santa.
Santa: No sweat, Loomis. You’re basically a nice kid. And don’t worry: Our deal is still good. You keep up the air support and I’ll bring the team up to speed on the whole surveillance thing.
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